Reykjavik might be small for a capital city, but it doesn't mean it's not worth exploring. It has art and culture, good restaurants, pretty views and some sights that you absolutely need to see before leaving Iceland. Although I wouldn't spend more than a day or two and would keep most of my time to discover the beauty of the rest of the country, I really enjoyed our time in Reykjavik walking around the rainbow street and trying to pronounce the name of every sight we were seeing.
what to see
One of the most popular things to see in Reykjavik is the Hallgrimskirkja church. The view from the bell tower is incredible and its organ is the largest musical instrument in all of Iceland.
You should also check out the Sun Voyager statue and it's view over the mountains.
Personally, my favorite thing to see in Reykjavik was the Harpa concert hall. The building is an immense work of art that has received multiple awards for its architecture. I absolutely loved to see the sunlight hit the colored window panes and mirrors on the walls.
how to get there
I'm guessing, since you are reading an article about Iceland on a travel blog, that you are not from Iceland. Therefore, I'm going to assume that you will either be arriving to the island by ferry and then drive along highway 1 to Reykjavik or, in most cases, arriving by plane. Most people visiting Iceland will be flying into the international airport in Keflavik, which is about a 30-minute drive out of Reykjavik. There are buses from the airport to Reykjavik, but if you are planning to visit more of Iceland, your best bet will be to rent a car or camper van in Keflavik and drive into the city. It is a very easy drive as you just follow the main road all the way to the city.
what to eat
There are plenty of restaurants of all nationalities and all types in Iceland so you are sure to find something that is to your liking. If you are brave, you can also try fermented shark, but for a nice meal, you'll want to visit the area between the Sun Voyager statue and Hallgrimskirkja which is booming with multiple terrasse restaurants and bars. The food is pretty expensive in Iceland, but nothing outrageous, especially considering tip is included in the price.
I found that food options in Iceland were very similar to what you would find in Canadian restaurants: lots of different kinds of burgers, fish and chips, meat and fries, etc. The lamb was maybe more popular. Honestly, everything that we ate was good, but nothing was particularly worth mentioning. You don't visit Iceland for its restaurants, in my opinion.
Making your own food is a very good option in Iceland that we took advantage of as often as possible as it reduces costs. I found that food prices were similar as what you would find in Canada, but the grocery stores are very small and there are definitely less options. You won't find 2000 brands of cereals like you would in the USA, there are maybe 3 or 4 types, for example. Our main difficulty when grocery shopping was the language. Everything is written in Icelandic so finding the right kind of milk was a struggle, but we made it work. The language is similar to English enough that you can find similarities enough to understand, you just hope they're not faux-amis.
Tip : if you plan on getting groceries, think about bringing at least one reusable grocery bag in your luggage. You have to pay for grocery bags in Iceland (as you should) and they aren't very sturdy.
where to stay
Reykjavik is probably the only place in Iceland where there are multiple types of accommodation options. You will find hotels of more than 10 levels, small bed and breakfasts, hostels, luxurious boutique hotels, and of course plenty of airbnbs, but just like everywhere else, accommodation is ridiculously expensive! Since we had a car, we opted for a small room in an airbnb on the Seltjarnes peninsula, about 10 minutes from the main touristic area. We were close to the grocery stores and had a view on the lighthouse and the glacier on Sneafellsnes peninsula. The area was pretty quiet, in a small neighborhood, and I totally recommend it. Either way, you will have no trouble finding a place that corresponds to your needs in Reykjavik.
I hope you enjoy your stay in Reykjavik and that it is the start of an amazing trip around Iceland!
other articles you might enjoy